Trailer Life Campground Finder 2006 first impressions

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tronmech

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Joined
May 17, 2006
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3
Hello, I just purchased a copy of the 2006 Trailer Life Directory and have some "issues" with the program.

Counter-intuitive usage issues. This includes:
  • 3-way overloading of the right mouse button. Right click alone zooms out, Control-click brings up a properties box, and shift-click allows you to add a map location as a point. All these should be right-click context menu items. And Zoom Out should be a Shift- or control-click operation.
  • Added campgrounds list the approximate address of the campground as opposed to the NAME of the campground. This can get confusing and makes it difficult to use the directions list as an itinerary.
  • Print options give no progress indication. The ONLY way you know that the print is actually doing something is if you attempt to print a second time. In fact, the whole print section feels like a kludge.
  • Lack of print preview. I use this to see what would print so I don't wind up killing trees as I see what the trip looks like. It's also good to know that you are about to print 35 pages of directions so you an be sure to add paper/ink before starting the print -- or change your mind about printing it in the first place.
  • Print of the trip map is essentially a copy of the displayed map without the route highlighted (those arrows can be hard to spot, you know), and WITH whatever park/attraction/service center the mouse was last hovering over displayed -- even if it's not germaine to the trip.) With the default color settings, there is no way to see where you're going if the map takes you through urban areas becuause the trip map fills up with black ink. (Check out the area in Southern Quebec for an example. set up a trip from Boston to Montreal via Quebec City, then print the trip map in B&W both with, and without shading. Try to find the trip route as it hits southern Quebec.)
  • No way to deselect a highlighted "location of interest" other than mousing over another one. This makes it difficult to look at some groups of related sites (like the 4 campgrounds in Myrtle Beach, SC, at some zoom levels).
  • The "Nearest campground" feature can pick completely unsuitable campgrounds. In one case, it picked a municipal campground that only had 7 TENT sites (no RV sites at all) as a possible stopover. The trip planner needs to bring up the location finder pre-loaded with the stop area to allow you to select and/or locate alternate campgrounds.

2. Map Accuracy concerns. Jennings Road, in North Billerica, MA, does not go the way you say it does. Check out Yahoo Maps, Google Maps, and Mapquest for a more accurate representation. Perhaps this is intentional (as there are deliberate errors in some maps to catch people who would pirate the database), but without knowing for sure, I am not sure I can trust your street-level maps.
3. Stability concerns. Before I installed SP2, I couldn't print at all. I have recently also discovered that the program will HANG if given an impossible route (Try San Francisco, CA via Juneau, AK to Anchorage, AK. I know for a fact that there are no roads tying the Juneau area to the rest of Alaska, some other people may not.). I get a dialog box saying "Catastrophic Failure" and the program has to be killed using the task manager.

From the manufacturer's (Undertow Software) other products on their web page, they appear to specialize in vertical market mapping solutions. In those environments, ease of use is a close second to power and flexibility. Unfortunately, in the RV-er market, which has people who are barely if at all tech-savvy, ease of use is critical. I don't feel that this product is there yet. The power is obvious, and looks it might be able to route one around low-clearance routes. (Though it doesn't seem to, I can make a route that takes me under a 10'9" bridge in Liverpool, NY by placing waypoints within the center of the village.)

Some key things I wish they would add to make things easier:
1. Print out campground info either at the end of the itinerary or at the stop point. Ideally, make this a user-selectable option. That information needs to include the Trailer life listing, though the in-line listing can just include the Name and number of the campground (useful if you're running late, just look at the directions list to get the number).
2. The ability to use the context menu to get descriptions of campgrounds and other points of interest right from the "find a location" dialog.
 

Ron

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Jan 29, 2005
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Home is where we park it
We only bought the Trailer Life directory on CD once and was so impressed we never bought another.  Most useless CD on the market IMHO. 
 

tronmech

New member
Joined
May 17, 2006
Posts
3
The only reason I bought it was because the paper directory is so painful to use. If you don't know what towns are around the one you want to visit, you may not be able to find a place to stay. With the electronic version, I can zoom in/out until the campgrounds are visible, and hover the mouse over the ampgrounds to view the listings. This is very valuable when looking to visit someplace like Montreal, Quebec since there are so many "towns" around Montreal proper that it's hard to keep track of them all (and the Montreal listing in the paper guide doesn't list them all).
 

Ned

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Feb 1, 2005
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The TL CD has changed almost every year for the last several years.  The 2006 edition doesn't look anything like the earlier ones.  It is easier to use, but still suffers from usability problems as you mentioned.  We only use it as a replacement for the book, as you do, and don't even try to do trip routing with it.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Feb 2, 2005
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At our Silver Springs FL home
The only reason I bought it was because the paper directory is so painful to use. If you don't know what towns are around the one you want to visit, you may not be able to find a place to stay.

Do you realize there are maps in the front of the paper directory? Towns that have park listings are shown on the map with either a red dot (Good Sam parks) or Black dot (all other parks). That's how you identify which towns to look for in the listings. It's somewhat of a nuisence to flip back and forth between map page and the alphabetical town listings, but it works.

I have the 2006 TL CD and use it like you do. I either zoom in and look for flags that indicate a park or pick a major town in the general area and "find" campgrounds for that twon. They seem to list everything within 50 or more miles anyway, so I get a broad listing for the area.
 

tronmech

New member
Joined
May 17, 2006
Posts
3
RV Roamer said:
Do you realize there are maps in the front of the paper directory?

Yes, I do, but I don't like flipping around from the front to the back over & over again.

RV Roamer said:
Yes, I've seen them, but the dots tend to obscure things. Never mind finding some towns.I have the 2006 TL CD and use it like you do. I either zoom in and look for flags that indicate a park or pick a major town in the general area and "find" campgrounds for that twon. They seem to list everything within 50 or more miles anyway, so I get a broad listing for the area.

I plan on using the trip routing functions, but like most automated trip routing, I plan on taking the steps it tells me to take with a grain of salt since it got the configuration of my street wrong.
 

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